Message: Like it or not, we are in a high stakes war and the enemy does not take summer vacation.
Last week we finished a ten week series titled Life In Christ. This Sunday we transition to a new theme: Spiritual Warfare. The two themes Life in Christ and Spiritual Warfare might seem to clash. Life in Christ, as we learned, involves a walk with Jesus, listening to him in the Scriptures and receiving him in the Eucharist. That sound pretty peaceful, so why talk about war? Besides, right now many people are thinking about getting away and relaxing a little. Why have a summer series on spiritual warfare?
There are a couple of reasons: First, a soldier's life does not rule out time for R & R - Rest and Relaxation. A good general allows it, even encourages some R & R. This summer we will hear Jesus say "my yoke is easy and my burden light" and he will take three disciples on a hike up a small mountain. So spiritual warfare doesn't mean constant battle; it includes times for rest and retooling.
There's a second reason for talking about spiritual warfare. None of us can predict when the enemy will attack. We may plan a peaceful time, but then all of a sudden like Jeremiah we can find ourselves under assault - not by people far away, but within one's family and associates. The enemy can mount an attack any time - winter, spring, summer or fall.
A few months ago we had a retreat for parish disciples involved in Unity, Youth and Spirituality ministries. We began with Mass then had 4 hours of silent prayer. I gave them this question: What is God's plan for St. Mary of the Valley? As we look toward the 2017-2018 faith formation year, what does God want us to do?
From this discernment a major concern emerged: strengthen marriages and families to meet the challenge of spiritual warfare. We recognize that the values of the world and the attacks of evil one affect our children. Many experience alienation from God and from the Catholic faith - and cease practicing their faith when they leave home for college or work. During the 2017-2018 parish year we will work so that the ministries at St. Mary of the Valley – in an explicit and deliberate way - assist parents and families in this spiritual combat.
In today's Gospel Jesus calls us to vigilance: "Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul." Don't be afraid to acknowledge Jesus. If you acknowledge him, he will acknowledge you. If you deny him before others, he will deny you. We are involved in a high stakes combat.
We will hear more about this next weekend when Jesus tells us that we have to love him even more than mother and father, son or daughter. These are tough words. We will consider them in context of the Fourth of July - what it means to be Americans who follow Jesus. I will even have a quote from our president. Do not be afraid. :) That's for next Sunday.
The message for today is this: Make the best of your summer, but be vigilant and use this time to learn more about spiritual combat. Like it or not, we are in a high stakes war and the enemy does not take summer vacation. We can make our own what Jeremiah says to God "To you I have entrusted my cause...Praise the Lord, for he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked." Amen
From Archives (Twelfth Ordinary Sunday, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources)
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Fr. Brad's Homilies
Fr. Jim's Homilies
Fr. Michael White's Homilies ("messages")
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru